Jack A. Markell Trail Connecting Wilmington to New Castle Opens

Delaware’s Congressional delegation, Governor John Carney, former Governor Jack Markell, State Representative Valerie Longhurst, DelDOT Secretary Jennifer Cohan, DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin, and other state and local officials gathered on Wednesday at the DuPont Environmental Education Center at the Russell W. Peterson Urban Wildlife Refuge in Wilmington, to open the new 7.9-mile trail named after former Governor Jack Markell.

The new trail links Wilmington’s Riverfront to historic Old New Castle, and connects to a 3,000 mile East Coast Greenway that traverses Maine to Florida. The trail includes a 300 foot-long pedestrian/bicycle crossing over the Christiana River and an elevated 2,300 foot-long boardwalk through the Peterson Wildlife Refuge with paved pathways. The elevated boardwalk section is the largest pedestrian/bicycle bridge in the state.

The trail was dedicated during a ribbon-cutting ceremony as the “Jack A. Markell Trail,” in honor of the former First State’s Governor, who spearheaded the dramatic expansion of bicycle and pedestrian trails and pathways throughout Delaware during his two terms in office.

“Today’s groundbreaking on the final phase of this trail that connects the beautiful Wilmington Riverfront to Historic Old New Castle is a part of a national trail that reaches across more than 3,000 miles of our country,” said U.S. Senator Tom Carper. “Governor Markell’s hard work and dedication to creating a more walkable, bikeable Delaware can be seen in the great trails we have that span our state from Wilmington to the Bayshore. It’s a lasting legacy that will be enjoyed for generations to come.”

“I am proud to have had a small part in establishing this track, when I served as New Castle County Executive, and I am equally pleased this trail will be named for Governor Markell, recognizing his championing of accessibility for cyclists and pedestrians, and his vision for connecting all of Delaware through trails and greenways,” said U.S. Senator Chris Coons.

“This exciting project further connects the communities of Wilmington and New Castle,” said Governor John Carney. “It provides more opportunities for walkers and cyclists to enjoy a beautiful part of our state. It gives those living near the trail another option for their morning commute. And, it finalizes a critical link that incorporates Delaware into a vast network of trails in our region and along the East Coast. None of this would have been possible without the vision and leadership of Governor Markell and his Trails and Pathways Initiative. Naming this trail in his honor is a fitting recognition of his efforts to promote healthier living, increase tourism, and bring together towns and communities in our state. I’m looking forward to its opening, and I know the Governor will be one of the first ones out here to ride it.”

“I’m thrilled that we’re opening this trail, which establishes a critical new link within our state’s trail network and the East Coast greenway,” said former Governor Jack Markell. “Dozens of miles of new trails and pathways have been constructed to more fully integrate our hundreds of miles of existing routes into a world-class regional trail network. Doing so strengthens the quality of life of people in our state, while helping attract more people to live and work here.”

“Governor Markell has done more to advance the idea of a walkable, bikeable Delaware than any other elected official, and that’s not hyperbole, that’s simply a fact,” said House Majority Leader Valerie Longhurst, an avid cyclist who has biked with the Governor on several occasions. “During his time in office, Governor Markell has proposed, fought for, and helped secure tens of millions of dollars in funding for Delaware to invest in cycling and pedestrian trails up and down the state. As a result of many of these improvements, we’ve seen Delaware’s ranking by the League of American Bicyclists climb from 31st in 2008, to 18th in 2011, all the way up to 3rd last year. Thanks to Governor Markell, Delawareans and visitors to our state have an unprecedented opportunity to see our state as never before.”

“Thanks to Governor Markell, this trail – and many others already completed under his visionary First State Trails and Pathways Initiative – will continue to link people with opportunities for health, education, recreation and employment for decades to come,” said Secretary of Transportation Jennifer Cohan.

“It is appropriate that we name our newest trail in Delaware after Governor Jack Markell,” said DNREC Secretary Shawn M. Garvin. “We continue to realize his vision to build a world-class trail network across the state that enhances recreational options for residents and visitors, provides alternative transportation routes, and benefits the environment. We are connecting more residents and visitors to the outdoors, and it is a wonderful legacy for our current and future generations.”

The $22.5 million project was completed by JJID Inc. of Bear.

For further information visit www.deldot.gov, or contact DelDOT Community Relations at 1-800-652-5600 or 302-760-2080, or contact DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902.

Unique Gordons Pond Trail opens at Cape Henlopen State Park

            Trail users, officials, residents celebrate long-awaited connector

CAPE HENLOPEN STATE PARK (June 18, 2014) – On the eve of Cape Henlopen State Park’s 50th anniversary, hiking and biking trail fans, elected officials, park visitors and local residents today came out to celebrate the long anticipated official opening of the Gordons Pond Trail at the park.

The new 3.2-mile trail is part of Governor Jack Markell’s Trails and Pathways Initiative, providing a key link in a 15-mile regional trail system connecting Lewes and Rehoboth Beach including the existing Junction and Breakwater Trail. The trail extends from the wildlife observation platform at the Gordons Pond area to the Walking Dune Trail near Herring Point in the park. It includes a boardwalk featuring two observation lookouts.

“The Gordons Pond Trail offers an outstanding opportunity for residents and visitors alike to enjoy the outdoors and experience the natural beauty of our state,” said Governor Jack Markell. “Investments in our trails and pathways provide a tremendous return, promoting healthier lifestyles, a cleaner environment, and a stronger economy.”

The new trail replaces an existing primitive trail which traveled through dune fields and was open only part of the year. Nearly a half of a mile of trail is an elevated boardwalk constructed with a special decking material that light can penetrate, allowing plants to grow below and minimizing impact to the environment. In addition, 2.7 miles of trail is constructed of fine crushed stone. The trail is open to walkers, runners and bicyclists whenever the park is open.

“This is without a doubt one of the most spectacular trails our state has to offer, and it will surely be a major attraction for Delawareans and visitors enjoying this part of our state,” said DNREC Secretary Collin O’Mara. “The trail provides a car-free connection between two major beach communities and combines some of the most majestic views with healthy active recreation.”

The Gordons Pond Trail connection was first noted in a 1974 Bikeway report to the General Assembly. It was examined again in 1990. The final route was developed by a team of DNREC resource specialists in 2010, and final trail design began in 2012.

“Trails are a wonderful year-long resource for recreational walking and hiking, which improves physical and mental health for people of all ages,” said Gary Kirk, Environment Chair of the Wilmington Trail Club. “The Gordons Pond Trail is readily accessible, flat, and in a mostly natural setting, so it will be a magnet not just for Delaware residents but also for the many visitors each year to the Delaware beaches.”

“The Gordons Pond Trail is a major enhancement in the outdoor recreational opportunities in this area,” said John Kurpjuweit, president of Sussex Cyclists. “It will greatly add to the outstanding quality of life in Sussex County. Whether cycling, running or walking, trail users now have additional means to improve their health and fitness, or simply to enjoy the beauty of coastal Delaware.”

“This new trail addition is going to be a wonderful thing for runners,” said Mary Beth Evans, owner of the Rehoboth Beach Running Company. “It will be great to hop on the trail and run into Cape Henlopen State Park. I love running somewhere instead of driving.”

“I’m so excited that the trail is open,” said Amy Linzey, a local runner and triathlete. “It’s beautiful! It’s so nice to have one big loop to run and bike on now.”

Cape Henlopen State Park draws more than 1.2 million visitors a year. The park comprises 5,320 acres with swimming beaches, surf-fishing areas, fishing pier, the Seaside Nature Center, a tent and RV campground, youth camps, and historic Fort Miles. The Gordons Pond Trail joins a network of nearly 16 miles of hiking, biking and nature trails in the park, including the 3-mile Bike Loop Trail; the half-mile Seaside Nature Trail; the 2-mile Pinelands Nature Trail; the 1.6-mile Walking Dune Trail; the half-mile Salt Marsh Spur; and the 5-mile Junction & Breakwater Trail east of the Lewes and Rehoboth Canal.

Project design and construction costs came from the Governor’s Trails & Pathways Bond Bill funds for state park trails. Project design and construction totaled $3.48 million. The trail was designed by Delaware engineering firm RK&K, and was constructed by Conventional Builders Inc., also of Delaware.


Capital City Trails Phase One Complete

Trail is vital link in Governor Markell’s First State Trails and Pathways Initiative

Dover – Governor Jack Markell, Department of Transportation (DelDOT) Secretary Shailen Bhatt, Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control (DNREC) Secretary Collin O’Mara, and Dover Mayor Carleton Carey are pleased to announce the completion of Phase 1 of the Capital City Trails project in Dover.

“We’re making our state a better place for walking and biking,” said Governor Jack Markell.  “One pathway at a time, we are improving Delaware’s quality of life and attractiveness to businesses by creating safe and scenic pathways for people to use.  When families want a great place to live and businesses want a great place to locate, we want them to look at communities like Dover.”

The first phase of the project includes a continuous walkway from Public Safety Boulevard, along the west side of U.S. Route 13, to the south side of Martin Luther King Boulevard and crosses in front of Legislative Hall.  The new pathway is ten feet wide with landscaping and lighting consistent with historic downtown Dover.

“As part of our long term efforts to provide transportation options, as well as reduce vehicle emissions and improve air quality, we’re providing more opportunities for bicycle and pedestrian travel in the Capital City.  We’re expanding our network by connecting existing bike and pedestrian pathways in the area and improving safety for all users,” said DelDOT Secretary Shailen Bhatt.

The Capital City Trail in Dover’s pathways and trails system connects to the existing Silver Lake Trail at Division Street, continuing to Legislative Hall and along Court Street to the Public Safety Boulevard Pathway and the Isaacs Branch Trail. When completed, this trails and pathways system will extend a total of 4.5 miles in greater Dover – safely connecting city residents, visitors, and workers to parks, historic attractions, government offices, the Dover Air Force Base, schools, and businesses.

“The Capital City Trail fills a gap in trail work completed several years ago by the City of Dover on the St. Jones River Trail funded by local legislative Community Transportation Funds, as well as Kent County’s Isaac Branch Greenway Trail that was created with grant assistance from DNREC’s local Land & Water Conservation Trust Fund Grant Program,” said DNREC Secretary Collin O’Mara. “Together this network not only provides residents better community connections for walking and biking, but brings us another step closer to realizing Governor Markell’s vision of offering tremendous recreational and physical fitness opportunities in every part of our state.”

Mayor Carey stated, “This is a great milestone, with the completion of Phase 1 and moving on to Phase 2 – many people will see this project as a way to promote healthy living and will appreciate it as a user friendly means to get around our community.”

Phase 2 of the project will connect the pathway from Legislative Hall to Loockerman Street and is scheduled to being construction in spring 2014. Construction on Phase 3, which will connect the pathway from Loockerman Street to Park Drive is expected to begin the following fall.

The Capital City Trail is part of the Governor’s First State Trails and Pathways Initiative that creates a world-class statewide network of new and enhanced trails and pathways for residents and visitors to enjoy walking, biking, hiking, and active living. The Initiative has far-reaching advantages – boosting Delaware’s economy, benefitting local businesses, and promoting the continued growth of the state’s recreation and tourism industries. By offering people a place to walk, run or ride, trails and pathways allow them to connect with the outdoors and encourages healthier, more active lifestyles.

Governor Markell’s First State Trails and Pathways Initiative is a partnership led by the Department of Transportation and the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control with regional and local organization and government partners.

 For more information, please visit www.trails.delaware.gov

Gov. Markell, Sen. Carper Tout New Gordons Pond Trail for Health and Recreation at Cape Henlopen State Park Groundbreaking

LEWES (Oct. 25, 2013) – U.S. Senator Tom Carper, Governor Jack Markell, DNREC Secretary Collin O’Mara, and other federal, state and local officials, trail supporters and outdoor enthusiasts, at the groundbreaking for the new Gordons Pond Trail in Cape Henlopen State Park. The trail project, combined with the existing stone trail, will result in 2.75 total miles of improved trail connecting Gordons Pond to Herring Point in Cape Henlopen State Park. The 15.5-mile loop that the trail creates will be the longest loop trail south of the C&D Canal.

“More trails for walking, hiking, biking, and jogging rank consistently as the highest outdoor recreation need identified by Delawareans throughout the state,” said Governor Jack Markell. “The investments we continue to make in our trails and pathways support our overall health and well-being, and help grow our economy. Trails like Gordons Pond help make Delaware attractive to talented workers and businesses who may want to locate here.”

“As we improve and invest in our trails, we create more than just pretty pathways in Delaware,” said U.S. Senator Tom Carper. “We cannot underestimate the value of trails in Delaware – and this one in particular. This trail means better health for Delawareans and a better economy for Delaware.”

“Gordons Pond and the Cape Henlopen State Park provide Delawareans and guests from around the region an opportunity to take part in a delightful day of exercise and engagement with the world around them,” said U.S. Senator Chris Coons. “The completion of the final phase of the trail will bring outdoor enthusiasts that much closer to the vibrant natural resources that surround them at the pond. I am thrilled construction is beginning shortly and look forward to heading out on the trail this spring when it’s completed.”

“I’m excited to see the construction of the Gordons Pond Trail move forward,” said U.S. Congressman John Carney. “We know the tremendous positive impact that well-maintained trails have in our state. Just last week, we dedicated a new trail along the C&D Canal. The trail connecting Lewes and Rehoboth is one of the most popular in the state, attracting both tourists and Delawareans. These trails show off the beauty of our state, while people are biking, walking, or doing other activities that are part of a healthy, active lifestyle. I’m looking forward to coming back once this trail is complete.”

The trail provides a key link in a 15.5-mile loop through Lewes and Rehoboth and along the existing Junction and Breakwater Trail – one of Delaware’s most used and loved existing trails. It will be compliant with the American with Disabilities Act and offer all visitors year-round access to enjoy and learn about a special area of Cape Henlopen State Park.

The $3 million project was funded by the 2012 Bond Bill as part of the Governor’s Trails and Pathways Initiative. As part of the initiative, the trail is an improvement and extension of the existing trail between the Gordons Pond Day Use Area and Herring Point. The existing improved Gordons Pond Trail begins at the Gordons Pond parking lot, extending 0.75 miles to an observation platform. Beginning at the observation platform adjacent to Gordons Pond – the northernmost point of the improved trail – the trail’s alignment will follow the existing primitive trail on the dike along the western edge of Gordons Pond, a distance of 1.2 miles. A boardwalk segment will begin south of an existing footbridge and will run across dunes and marsh before it rejoins a level sandy landscape to the north, a distance of 0.4 miles. At the boardwalk’s north end, a 0.3-mile trail section lies east of the marsh that connects to the Walking Dunes Trail and Herring Point at Dune Road. A new trailhead parking lot serving the trail’s north end will be constructed.

“This trail will provide a world-class recreational experience for those wishing to enjoy the magnificent views of Gordons Pond, the tidal marsh, ocean and dunes,” said DNREC Secretary Collin O’Mara. “In addition, trail networks promote healthy lifestyles and take cars off the road, reducing air pollution and traffic. The Gordons Pond Trail will offer an excellent opportunity for young Delawareans to be outdoors to experience and learn about nature, as we strive to have no child left inside.”

The new 10 foot wide trail will replace the existing primitive trail from the observation platform adjacent to Gordons Pond on the south end to Herring Point on north end. The trail tread surface will be stone topped with stone dust and the surface will match the existing Gordons Pond Trail. Other improvements will include benches at various locations along trail and observation areas on the boardwalk. When complete, expected in the spring of 2014, the entire length of the Gordons Pond Trail – 2.75 miles – will meet standards required by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The boardwalk will be 8 feet wide and approximately 0.4 miles long. It will be elevated to span dunes and marsh; deck height above ground varies from 2 to 3 feet at its low section to 8 to 9 feet at the high section. The boardwalk will offer views, account for rising sea level, and will provide a level of separation between pedestrian traffic and sensitive cultural and natural resources. The fiberglass-grated deck is designed for light penetration to wetlands plants below it. It will include two 8 by 20-foot observation areas, and the handrail will be wood-framed with see-through wire mesh along full length of boardwalk. In addition to the handrail being designed for safety, it will also ensure that visitor stay on the trail and not wander into areas where they can potentially disturb wetlands, sensitive cultural resources, and rare plant and animal species.

Also at the event, Senator Carper on behalf of Delaware’s Congressional Delegation, paid tribute to Charles Salkin, the outgoing director of DNREC’s Division of Parks and Recreation, who will retire at the end of October after 35 years of state service, including 21 years as Delaware State Parks division director.

‘See it Both Ways’ Safety Campaign Launched at the Walkable, Bikeable Summit

DOVER (May 1, 2013) – At the Walkable, Bikeable Summit today, Governor Jack Markell was joined by Delaware Department of Transportation (DelDOT) Secretary Shailen Bhatt, Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control Secretary Collin O’Mara and bike advocacy groups to launch the ‘See it Both Ways’ safety campaign designed to educate motorists and bicyclists to look out for each other and share the road. Unveiling the “See It Both Ways” campaign  are, left to right: John Hollis, co-chair of the Walkable, Bikeable Summit; Governor Jack Markell; DelDOT Secretary Shailen Bhatt; DNREC Secretary Collin O’Mara; DHSS Secretary Rita Landgraf; Representative Harvey Kenton; Representative Edward Osienski and Representative Bobby Outten.

The campaign is a component of Governor Markell’s First State Trails and Pathways Initiative that creates a world-class statewide network of new and enhanced trails and pathways for residents and visitors to enjoy walking, biking, and active living.

“The ‘See it Both Ways’ awareness campaign makes safety a priority for cyclists and motorists,” said Governor Markell. “As we expand our statewide network of trails and pathways, we want to be sure those on wheels and behind the wheel are both looking out for one another. Safe trails and pathways will make Delaware one of the most walkable and bikeable states in America.”  

The campaign’s key focus is on increasing awareness between motorists and bicyclists to see the road from the other’s point of view. The ‘See it Both Ways’ logo and slogan, ‘Safety Begins with Sharing,’ are being displayed on DART buses traveling throughout the state. Reflectors that can be attached to a bicyclist or pedestrian’s clothing to increase visibility were distributed at today’s Summit.

“‘See It Both Ways’ focuses on respecting the rights and safety of others. This Campaign asks motorists to put themselves in the place of bicyclists in order to better understand how their driving impacts others.  In turn, the program asks bicyclists to view safety from the perspective of drivers,” said Secretary Bhatt.  “Traveling on roads and pathways requires care and courtesy – whether you are driving a car on the road or riding a bicycle on a roadway or pathway.”

“Safety and awareness go hand-in-hand with Delaware being more walkable and bikeable,” said Secretary O’Mara. “This campaign educates motorists and bicyclists to “See it Both Ways” and promotes safety on our roadways.” 

Here are just a few of the key points for bicyclists and motorists to remember:

  • In Delaware, a bicycle is considered a “vehicle” (like cars, trucks and motorcycles). All bicycle riders must obey the same laws as drivers of other vehicles. 
  • When a road is too narrow for cars and bikes to ride safely side by side, cyclists should use the travel lane, which means riding in or near the center of the lane.
  • Motorists must maintain at least three feet of clearance when passing a bicyclist. It’s the law.
  • Motorists should be alert at all times – avoiding distractions such as text messaging and speaking on the cell phone.

Bicycling is on the rise in Delaware. People are biking for exercise or to reduce commuting costs.   It’s time to “See It Both Ways” — for everyone’s safety.

For more information on the First State Trails and Pathways program, please visit www.trails.delaware.gov.

 Contact:  Dawn Hopkins, DelDOT, 302-760-2727
                    Melanie Rapp, DNREC Public Affairs, 302-739-9902